Tie me kangaroo down sport

As if there weren’t enough people getting on the Beckham bandwagon…

Beckham endorses / wears Adidas Predator shoes, which are made in the main with kangaroo leather. A vegetarian / animal rights organization spent several years lobbying Beckham to stop wearing the kangaroo boots, including suggesting that they would organize an effort to call him out for not caring about wildlife. Entertainingly, their website (which hasn’t been updated since Beckham left Madrid) asked supporters to keep on emailing Beckham so he wouldn’t backslide, with the exhoration to:

Remind him that Ronaldo, the best football player in the world, wears 100% synthetic boots.

Considering that Ronaldo’s credentials as best player in the world have take a dent over the last couple of years, in no small part because of weight gained while eating enormous amounts of meat, the mind boggles. (I’m not saying that Ronaldo has eaten kangaroo, mind you, but I wouldn’t rule it out.)

Presumably Beckham must have thought that by demonstrating to the animal rights crowd that he was willing to wear shoes made of petroleum by-products instead of kangaroo by-products, that was the end of it, but no.

The fuss has spread to California. The state barred the sale of kangaroo hide in 1971, which presaged a federal ban from the Fish and Wildlife agency in 1974. However, the Australian government self-certified that kangaroos were back like cooked crack in 1995, and the federal ban was lifted… In the meantime, when shoe sales started in California, Viva sued, and then Adidas and two retail chains appealed on the grounds that federal law superceded state law. The California Supreme Court overturned the appeal, just in time for the story to hit the papers at the height of Beckham mania.

Long story short, the animal rights folks and the state lined up against that argument; for the animal rights people it’s a question of protecting other species in California, and for the state it’s a legal argument that is playing out also in the area of environmental regulation, as the Bush Administration is trying to prevent California from setting stricter standards on emissions than the federal goverment does. So there’s pleny going on…

In the meantime, there’s a bill working its way through the California state legislature to permit sales of kangaroo products, and as noted in the Brisbane Times:

Adidas’ biggest star, British soccer hero, David Beckham, was in an awkward position on the matter after it was revealed his wife is a strict vegetarian.

The article in the Brisbane Times had a slightly different view on the need to not kill kangaroos:

California does not allow products made from kangaroo hide to be sold or imported into the state, despite the fact they exist in near plague proportions in drought-ravaged Australia and have to be culled.

This is always a challenging question. No-one wants to stand up for slaughtering cute animals, but one of the side effects of humans killing off predators is that you end up with huge numbers of animals that have become like big-field mice: useful until there are too many of them. In the DC area the kangaroo equivalent is deer, and every time there’s talk of culls, well-fed middle class kids are trotted out with signs about not killing bambi. Perhaps Adidas could go for the controversy two-fer and start making shoes out of deer skin as well. Either way, some smarty pants activist or idle blogger* will find a way to link to Beckham.

*Trolling for hits? me? with my reputation?


4 Responses

  1. Well, to be cheeky, the Ronaldo they are referring to could be the one at Manchester.

    But kangaroo can’t really be compared to deers in two ways. They are the national symbol of Australia and they are also, in every definition of the word, pests. Large field-mice is an apt description of what they are and protecting them has thrown the Australian eco-system out of whack.

  2. I’m guessing that since Nike Mercurial Vapr III’s are synthetic, Cristiano Ronaldo is not the Ronaldo in question. Before you ask, I did have to look that up.

    As for whether or not deer are pests, in Maryland and Virginia they are getting that way. The combination of human population expansion (esp. in VA) and deer population growth is proving to be a bad one for all involved. And since deer like suburban space, they have every incentive to hang out.

    FWIW, though, I do think it’s pretty cool that when I cut through Rock Creek Park to get home that sometimes we have to stop for deer crossing the road… mainly because my kids are so citified that they once picked an argument with me about whether the large bovine entities we were passing in rural New Jersey were not in fact horses.

  3. kangaroos were safe in my world until “kangaroo jack” came out. now, i would eat one if presented.

    deer? well the fact that i am shopping around for a sturdy scope-mount for the “antique” rifle should say something.

    anyway, gotta go. i have a fuzzy old VHS copy of “Red Dawn” to watch maniacally in a wood panelled basement.

  4. Buenas ! seria mucha molestia brindar un poco mas de info sobre este tema ??? esta muy bueno el blog, un saludo y arriba el futbol !

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